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#11 - JRL 7004
Details of upcoming major world meetings in Russia in 2003
By Irina Chumakova

MOSCOW, January 2 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia's second city of St. Petersburg will host the world's major forums during its 300th anniversary.

The year 2003 will be full of important bilateral and multilateral meetings.

The leaders of Russia and the US will meet at least thrice during the year - in St. Petersburg, a few days later in France and in Thailand in the autumn.

The year will begin under Russian and French tricolours.

On January 8, French Foreign Minister Dominique Gallozeau de Villepin will visit Russia. His talks in the Russian capital will be on preparing Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Paris scheduled for February 10.

Japanese Prime Ministry Jinuchiro Koizumi will visit Russia on January 9-12. Moscow and Tokyo expect the January meetings to be a breakthrough in relations. 2003 has been declared a year of Russia in Japan.

On January 14, Syrian Vice President Abdul Khakim Khaddam will arrive in Russia. It is expected that his talks will address the e Middle East situation and Moscow-Damascus relations.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini will visit Moscow on January 1. He will meet his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov over political and economic relations and cultural cooperation, which is 500 years old.

Armenian President Robert Kocharyan plans a visit to Moscow in January 16 for discussing cooperation of the two countries.

Putin is expected to attend the opening of the year of Russian Culture in Germany in February.

In the spring, St. Petersburg will be a centre of meetings of world leaders.

In the jubilee celebrations, many other Group of Eight and European Union counties are to meet in the Russian leader in St. Petersburg, his native city.

The planned meetings of industrially developed states of the Group of Eight will be held in France in June.

The Asian Pacific economic cooperation forum will meet in Thailand in the autumn, at which the Russian president traditionally takes part,

Her Britannic Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, has announced her decision to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to a state visit to the United Kingdom in the summer during this year's 450th anniversary of the two countries' diplomatic relations.

Russia-Canada relations will be full this year. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien will visit Moscow we the spring and regional governor Adrienne Clarkson in the autumn.

South Korea's president-elect Roh Moo-hyun has shown interest in a rapid meeting with the Russian president.

Moscow is waiting for Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri this year.

Important meetings expected this year are a CIS summit, a summit of Caspian states and of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional association of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Defence and foreign ministers of the Russia-NATO Council will hold a meeting.

A world conference of change in the climate is to be held in Moscow on September 29-October 3.

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